north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Piedmont North Carolina is networked by several interlaced streams and rivers. Owing to geographical constraints, places where those waterways were most easily crossed became important to the state’s history since transportation routes developed along lines connecting these points. One such crossing, or ford, is at High Rock Creek, a tributary of the Haw River in Rockingham County. Located along the fall line, the Haw and High Rock were ideal locations for mills, several of which sprang up along their banks at various times.

     The earliest recorded instance of the crossing at High Rock dates to 1754 but its importance to military maneuvers in the region emerged in 1771, when Governor William Tryon recorded in his journal that he camped there on June 12th on his return trip to New Bern after the Battle of Alamance. The site served military purposes again ten years later when it was crisscrossed by both Generals Cornwallis and Greene in the days and weeks just prior to the Battle of Guilford Court House.

     Cornwallis and his men traveled through the area in the early months of 1781 searching for both Greene and supplies. Nathanael Greene boldly made his headquarters at the site for at least two weeks in February, gathering food and supplies. While encamped at the ford, Greene assembled troops from the surrounding countryside and communicated with General George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on upcoming movements, including a march from his headquarters at High Rock toward the impending battle at Guilford Courthouse. Greene’s preparations at High Rock enabled him and his ragtag army to provide a much needed obstacle to Cornwallis’s activities in North Carolina and eventually led to his surrender to Washington at Yorktown.

Hugh Rankin, Greene and Cornwallis: The Campaign in the Carolinas (1976)
George F. Scheer and Hugh Rankin, Rebels and Redcoats (1957)
Walter C. Clark, ed., State Records of North Carolina, XVIII and XXII
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park website:

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north carolina highway historical marker program

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